Who Can Stop the Orange? Syracuse’s 5 Worst March Matchups

The Huskies didn’t put up much resistance to the Orange. But these 5 teams most certainly would.

Syracuse is now an incredible 25-1, after dismantling bitter rival UConn 85-67. Scoop Jardine poured in 21 points and dished 6 assists, proving once again how deep this team is in leading scorers. The unranked Huskies proved little resistance for the SU machine, but things won’t always be this breezy. The Orange remained poised and fed off a raucous Carrier Dome crowd. The depth of SU terrorized UConn, providing waves of energy and bodies the Huskies simply couldn’t counter. It wasn’t nearly as satisfying without CalhounBot 3000 moping on the sidelnes, but kicking UConn’s tail is always enjoyable. Maybe the old codger decided to take a leave of absence because he could see two Orange ass whippings on the horizon.

While the Big East isn’t its usual brutalizing gauntlet, March is always full of booby traps. Basketball is a game of matchups, and teams that can slow down Syracuse in transition and crash the boards have the best shot of taking down the Orange.

Here are The Fizz’s 5 worst matchups for the Orange come tournament time:

#24 Louisville

It may seem strange to look at a team just cracking the top 25 as the most dangerous foe for SU. But Slick Rick has owned The Per’fesser of late, and can dissect the 2-3 zone better than any coach right now. Louisville was plagued by injuries after its 12-0 start, but has started to click on all cylinders winning five straight. The Cardinals plays with an edge and are always in the game (throw that flukey 30-point loss to Providence out the window). Syracuse struggles against scrappy squads that play team basketball. Look no further than last year’s 2nd-round exit to Marquette.

Kyle Kuric is an Orange killer and seems to go Jeremy Lin on SU every year. The Cardinals also seem to thrive shooting against the zone and have been unconscious from three-point land. These two teams meet twice before the regular seasons ends, and a matchup in March could be SU’s worst nightmare.

#10 Duke

The Dukies are a team The Fizz does not want to see in SU’s bracket. The Blue Devils are balanced and have an excellent blend of perimeter players and athleticism down low. Austin Rivers, Seth Curry and Andre Dawkins can stroke it from deep and the high-energy Plumlee brothers are are active on the glass.

Teams that can hit treys and rebound on the offensive end will give SU fits. The Orange sometimes goes into dry spells on offense, and Duke would take advantage of that. Lastly, Coach K teams are always disciplined and well prepared. The future ACC foe has all the ingredients to beat the Orange. Would the committee place SU and Duke in the same region, making for a legendary matchup of coaches for a right to go to New Orleans on the line?

#1 Kentucky

The Wildcats are a bad matchup for any team. UK has the most talent in the country and is balanced at all five positions. Doron Lamb and Darius Miller are lethal from long range, Anthony Davis is a freak and Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have incredible athletic ability. Kentucky’s defense is tough to navigate as well. SU fans know the impact of having a monster in the paint. Davis is Fab with go-go gadget arms and better leaping ability. The size and length of Kentucky can counter that of SU’s. Syracuse’s strengths are blocking shots and getting out in transition. The Wildcats are just as good, if not better than SU in both those departments.The Wildcats are a scary team, plain and simple. Luckily for Orange Nation, Syracuse  probably wouldn’t see UK until the Final Four.

#3 Ohio State

Good ball movement is the key for any team’s success against a zone, and the Buckeyes are particularly effective when they swing the ball laterally. William Buford and Aaron Craft are smart guards who make good decisions and can dictate the pace. The recipe for success against the Orange is to slow things down and make it a half court game. Ohio State can make that happen and thrives in the half-court game. The one place SU holds an huge advantage over the Buckeyes is height differential. Although Jared Sullinger plays like a bull, he is an undersized forward. Fab’s length could put Sullinger and forward Deshaun Thomas off their game. On the flip side, Sullinger has great body positioning and uses his leverage inside better than anyone into forcing a lot of fouls. Sullinger could easily get Melo into whistle trouble.

#5 North Carolina

Big bodies down low? Check. The boys from Chapel Hill have the tri-force of Harrison Barnes, Tyler Zeller and John Henson that drive teams crazy. UNC is a front court team that is driven by those big three. They are athletic and are scorers. That high post/low post game is the soft spot in Boeheim’s zone. Barnes or Henson patrolling the high post is not a good matchup since both can hit that mid range jumper or drive for an easy lay up. The Tar Heels are also third in the nation in offensive rebounding. SU’s achilles heel has been cleaning up the glass. UNC’s size and depth at forward is tough to defend. The Orange usually plays two small forwards in the zone (C.J. Fair and Kris Joseph) but against Carolina that might not be possible. The size of UNC is scary.

There’s still plenty of basketball to be played, and SU isn’t guaranteed a 1-seed. But it’s worth keeping an eye on these teams and where they fall in the bracketology as March Madness approaches.

Posted: Dave Van Moffaert

8 Comments on this Post

  1. not really buying those matchups, i think OSU, and unc are favorable matchups for SU, both a foreign to SU’s D and dont routinely practice against it, UNC wants it to be a track meet which also favor SU and really arent a deep team. Louisville, is a completely diff team then they have been in years past not a great 3 shooting team (only reason they beat us last 4 times) and the bread and butter for ul this year is the press and we all have seen what this years SU team has done to teams trying to do that. Also i partially agree with you on duke, but the only reason they could come out with a win against SU is if theyre amazing from three, but they have been hit or miss from there most of the year and even if they are as long as su extend out on them might not be an issue because of the lack of dukes interior depth. UK might be trouble for su but i wouldnt call it a bad matchup, they like to run, so does SU, UK has played good against a few zones, but against weak teams that wouldnt even come close to comparing to the legnth and athletism that SU has. I actually think that matchup slightly favors su because of uk’s shakey inexperienced guard play, i think guys like triche and waiters would give marquis teague fits and turn him over all day. I do think that would be a great game tho, and a likley national championship because those teams are by far the the best 2 teams in the country.

  2. think teams like mizzou only if theyre hot from deep, that really shoot 3’s well would be a bad matchup (although if SU makes this type of 3 shooting consistently idont even know about that)

  3. more like
    Missouri (great guards, tough team)
    Kansas (robinson is player of year)
    Kentucky (davis and gilchrist are tough)
    UNLV (UTR team that has chip
    and of course Butler (always a bracket nightmare to see)
    I’d much rather see a team like Ohio State, Duke, UNC, or Baylor, becasue they aren’t as dangerous

  4. Steve Leahy

    All those teams would also hate to play SU

  5. I think UNC is a tough matchup guys. The Tar Heels have the size down low ( Henson and Zeller) and a good athletic wing player in Barnes. Teams that can get into the middle of the zone have the best shot of beating SU. Henson and Zeller can play the high post low post game. Both can hit that foul line jumper.

  6. I also think Missouri would be a tough match for Syracuse. They move it well and have 4 guys that can knock it down from deep. Remind me a lot of the Nova team led by Foye/Ray/Lowery/Nardi

  7. The reason why I didn’t put Missouri on this list is that have no height and can’t rebound. Florida is a team that can stroke it from deep and they did that against SU (9 treys) and still lost. Looking at teams that are successful against the zone, the win from inside out. Nova struggled against the orange over the years because of a lack of an insider scorer. The tigers have Ricardo Ratliffe down low and thats it. And FYI he is only 6’8” and I think would be gobbled up with Cuse’s big bodies and length in the paint. Missouri is a top tier team, but I think the Orange would have an upper hand in that game.

  8. Duke is the team i wouldnt wanna see. They can all flat out shoot the 3 ball. Then the plumee’s inside rebound so well. The only thing /w them is they dont defend real well. `Cuse’s O would need to be hot like the UConn game to win i feel.

    UNC isnt a great outside shooting team. Barnes has proably been their best shooter all yr b/c pj hairston has struggled all yr shooting the ball. Kendall has no jumpshot and its absurd that you said henson has a jumper. Thats just not true. zeller would be tough in the middle of the zone but they could really contract the zone an shade to the side barnes was on. This game would come down to rebounding b/c henson an zeller attack the glass. I like our chances though in a game vs UNC.

    Kentucky struggles vs the zone and no1 in the country plays it like the `cuse does. Fab would be the biggest player string bean davis has seen all yr. Lamb is a great shooter an would give us fits if hes on. Miller is streaky an seems to be off more then hes on. UK gets alot of credit for their D. An well its tough the fact is UF and Vandy 8x outta 10 just didnt hit the open shots that they had. Everyone else in the SEC is straight up awful. Also around here Rupp is know as corrupt arena so throw out the UNC an Ville games b/c those games where played 5on8. I know you said that UK could out run us but i would have to disagree. Billy D. UF’s coach wouldnt press us b/c he didnt want us to run. He did press UK for 70% of the game last monday. To me that speaks volumes who the better running team is. This is my pick for the NC game in nola. It be a great game and i pray to tim tebow that the `cuse would win or i’d never here the end of it from my firends that are cats fans haha.

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